5 Chromebook Productivity Tips

Important Chromebook settings, Chrome OS apps, and more

The Chromebook has become one of the most widely-used laptops on the planet. With good reason: Chromebooks are simple to use, reliable, fast, and don't suffer under the weight of viruses and malware. Make your Chrome OS laptop work more efficiently with these five Chrome OS productivity tips.

Work With Google Drive While Offline

One misconception about the Chromebook is that it cannot work without a network connection. The ability to function offline is crucial, especially if you travel with your Chromebook or are situations where there's no internet connection.

Here's how to work with your Chromebook when you don't have a network connection:

  1. Connect the Chromebook to a wireless network.

  2. Open Chrome and go to the Google Docs Offline extension.

  3. Select Add to Chrome.

    The Add to Chrome button in the Chrome web store
  4. When prompted, select Add extension.

    The "Add Extension" button in Chrome Web Store
  5. Go to drive.google.com/drive/my-drive and select the Settings gear.

    The Settings gear in Google Drive
  6. Select Settings.

    Settings in Google Drive
  7. Select the check box for the Offline option.

    The Offline option in Settings
  8. Select Done.

You can now work with Google Drive while offline.

Pin Apps to the Taskbar

Like most operating systems, you can pin apps to the Chromebook taskbar. It's more efficient to launch those apps (instead of going through the Menu to find an app).

To pin an app to the taskbar, follow these steps:

  1. Select the menu button in the lower-left corner of the desktop.

    The Menu button in a Chromebook
  2. Select the upward-pointing arrow to open the application overview.

    The Up arrow in the Chromebook menu
  3. Locate the app, two-finger tap the application launcher, then select Pin to shelf.

    The "Pin to shelf" command in Chrome OS
  4. Enjoy faster access to that application.

Add a Website Shortcut to the Taskbar

Similar to adding apps to the taskbar, you can add websites to the taskbar and add sites to run in their application window (as opposed to a tab in Chrome). This option is convenient when you have a site you frequently use for productivity (for example, a CMS tool, your banking site, or a social media site).

Here are the steps to make this happen:

  1. Open the site in Chrome.

  2. Select the Chrome menu button and go to More tools > Create shortcut.

    The Create Shortcut command in Chrome
  3. In the resulting window, give the shortcut a name, select the Open as window check box, then choose Create.

The above steps create the shortcut and pin the shortcut to the taskbar. When you click that shortcut, it opens the site in its particular app window (without the standard toolbars and other features of the regular Chrome browser).

Use the Overview

The Chromebook includes an overview feature that displays a thumbnail of each of your currently running apps and windows. To use this feature, tap the square button with the two vertical lines.

The Overview allows you to select which app to work with (by clicking the app) or closing an app or window (by clicking the associated X in the upper-right corner of the app or window).

Dictate to Google Docs

Google has one of the best speech-to-text engines on the market. You can take advantage of that by dictating your work into Google Docs for hands-free writing.

To make this happen, first enable the on-screen keyboard. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Select the system tray in the lower-right corner of the desktop.

    The hub on a Chromebook
  2. Select the gear icon.

    The Settings icon on a Chromebook
  3. Scroll to the bottom and choose Advanced.

    Advanced in Chromebook settings
  4. Scroll down to Accessibility and select Manage accessibility features.

    The "Manage Accessibility Features" option in Chromebook settings
  5. Scroll down and turn on the Enable on-screen keyboard toggle switch.

    The switch for "Enable on-screen keyboard" in Chromebook settings
  6. Close the Settings window.

Now open Google Drive, create a new document, and follow these steps:

  1. On the taskbar (at the bottom of the window), select the keyboard icon to reveal the on-screen keyboard.

    The Keyboard button on a Chromebook
  2. Select the mic icon.

    The microphone icon on the Chrome OS keyboard
  3. Start dictating your text.

Enjoy Better Productivity on Your Chromebook

With these five quick tips, you should experience a more efficient level of productivity on your Chromebook. Never let anyone tell you again that a Chromebook is nothing more than a web browser.

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